Tai-ping Sun

Professor of Biology

3104 French Family Science Center, Durham, NC 27708
Campus Box: 
Box 90338, Durham, NC 27708-0338
(919) 613-8166
The diterpenoid phytohormone gibberellin (GA) plays pivotal roles in regulating growth and development throughout the life cycle of higher plants. Mutations affecting GA biosynthesis or GA response were the key to control plant stature in wheat and rice that led to dramatically increased grain yield and contributed greatly to the success of the ‘Green Revolution’ in the 1960s. Although the GA biosynthetic pathway had been characterized biochemically, little was known about the sites of GA production and the mode of GA action. By multi-faceted approaches using the model system Arabidopsis, my lab has made major breakthroughs in revealing the sites and regulatory mechanisms of GA biosynthesis. We also elucidated the conserved molecular events of GA perception and the early GA signaling pathway. We identified the nuclear transcriptional regulators DELLA proteins, which function as master growth repressors by inhibiting all aspects of GA responses. Binding of GA to its nuclear receptor GID1 enhances the GID1-DELLA interaction, which in turn leads to the rapid proteolysis of DELLA through the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway, and allows transcriptional reprogramming of GA-responsive genes. We and other researchers further showed that GA-GID1-DELLA is a key regulatory module that controls plant growth by integrating internal developmental cues, and external biotic and abiotic signals (light, cold, salt and pathogen stresses). Surprisingly, we recently found that DELLA directly interacts with multiple classes of key regulatory proteins in other signaling pathways. Our work is revealing the complex regulatory network between the GA pathway and other pathways to control plant growth and development.


  • Ph.D., Duke University 1987

  • B.S., National Tsing Hua University (Taiwan) 1980

Zhang, Zhong-Lin, Mikihiro Ogawa, Christine M. Fleet, Rodolfo Zentella, Jianhong Hu, Jung-Ok Heo, Jun Lim, Yuji Kamiya, Shinjiro Yamaguchi, and Tai-ping Sun. “Scarecrow-like 3 promotes gibberellin signaling by antagonizing master growth repressor DELLA in Arabidopsis.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 108, no. 5 (February 2011): 2160–65. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1012232108. Full Text

DeRose, R., T. Miyamoto, A. Suarez, T. Ueno, M. Chen, T. -. P. Sun, C. Mukherjee, D. Meyers, and T. Inoue. “Generation of Intracellular Logic Gates with Two Orthogonal Chemically Inducible Systems.” Molecular Biology of the Cell 22 (January 1, 2011).

Zhang, Z. L., M. Ogawa, C. M. Fleet, R. Zentella, J. Hu, J. -. O. Heo, J. Lim, Y. Kamiya, S. Yamaguchi, and T. -. P. Sun. “SCARECROW-LIKE 3 promotes gibberellin signaling by antagonizing DELLA in Arabidopsis.” Pnas 108 (2011): 2160–65.

Gilkerson, Jonathan, Jianhong Hu, Jessica Brown, Alexander Jones, Tai-ping Sun, and Judy Callis. “Isolation and characterization of cul1-7, a recessive allele of CULLIN1 that disrupts SCF function at the C terminus of CUL1 in Arabidopsis thaliana.Genetics 181, no. 3 (March 2009): 945–63. https://doi.org/10.1534/genetics.108.097675. Full Text

Murase, Kohji, Yoshinori Hirano, Tai-ping Sun, and Toshio Hakoshima. “Gibberellin-induced DELLA recognition by the gibberellin receptor GID1.Nature 456, no. 7221 (November 2008): 459–63. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature07519. Full Text

Ariizumi, Tohru, Kohji Murase, Tai-Ping Sun, and Camille M. Steber. “Proteolysis-independent downregulation of DELLA repression in Arabidopsis by the gibberellin receptor GIBBERELLIN INSENSITIVE DWARF1.The Plant Cell 20, no. 9 (September 30, 2008): 2447–59. https://doi.org/10.1105/tpc.108.058487. Full Text

Hu, Jianhong, Melissa G. Mitchum, Neel Barnaby, Belay T. Ayele, Mikihiro Ogawa, Edward Nam, Wei-Chu Lai, et al. “Potential sites of bioactive gibberellin production during reproductive growth in Arabidopsis.The Plant Cell 20, no. 2 (February 29, 2008): 320–36. https://doi.org/10.1105/tpc.107.057752. Full Text

Zentella, Rodolfo, Zhong-Lin Zhang, Mehea Park, Stephen G. Thomas, Akira Endo, Kohji Murase, Christine M. Fleet, et al. “Global analysis of della direct targets in early gibberellin signaling in Arabidopsis.The Plant Cell 19, no. 10 (October 12, 2007): 3037–57. https://doi.org/10.1105/tpc.107.054999. Full Text

Oh, Eunkyoo, Shinjiro Yamaguchi, Jianhong Hu, Jikumaru Yusuke, Byunghyuck Jung, Inyup Paik, Hee-Seung Lee, Tai-ping Sun, Yuji Kamiya, and Giltsu Choi. “PIL5, a phytochrome-interacting bHLH protein, regulates gibberellin responsiveness by binding directly to the GAI and RGA promoters in Arabidopsis seeds.The Plant Cell 19, no. 4 (April 20, 2007): 1192–1208. https://doi.org/10.1105/tpc.107.050153. Full Text


Selected Grants

Cloning and Characterization of a New Locus RGA Involved in Gibberellin Signal Transduction in Arabidopuis awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 1997 to 1998

Regulatory Mechanisms of Gibberellin Biosynthesis and Response in Arabidopsis awarded by Cooperative State Research Service (CSRS) (Principal Investigator). 1995 to 1997

Gibberellin Regulated Growth and Development in Arabidopsis awarded by Cooperative State Research Service (CSRS) (Principal Investigator). 1992 to 1995